By Eleftheria Parpis
TED curator Chris Anderson challenged the advertising industry to create "Ads Worth Spreading" at an Advertising Week session on Tuesday hosted by Jon Kamen, chairman and CEO of @radical.media.
Advertising on the Web is largely failing, said Anderson, who invited the ad community to create digital ads that are "every bit as intriguing and inspiring as the talks that are on the [TED] site." Ten winning campaigns will be selected to premiere at TED2011, which takes place from Feb. 28 to March 4, and will replace the paid advertising on TED.com for a week. "An ad worth spreading is one that the community it is targeted at really wants to see. They like it so much that they will want to share it with their friends," said Anderson. "It might be hysterically funny, it might be gorgeously beautiful, it might just be wickedly ingenious, it might be a multimedia production or just an employee talking to the camera about her ideas, visions hopes."
Each winning submission will have a page on TED.com, where visitors will be able to discuss and share the work. One way of thinking of an ad worth spreading, said Anderson, "is to make it look like a TED talk. You put the CEO in front of a camera and have them share what they actually care about, their values, visions for the future."
Referencing a talk he gave at TED last year, Anderson discussed the power of crowd-accelerated innovation, the idea that progress has not been driven by individual geniuses but by groups of people who spark off each other. "Radical openness" is a concept any corporation can tap into, he said. "The key is to open up. You need to share with the world something that you consider your deepest secret. That is what empowers thousands of people to engage with you."
Corporations have to play a part in the cycle of learning and innovation, Anderson said. "They have the ability to create the future that we all crave," he said. He compared the approach advertisers often take to getting consumer attention to stalking. "We're in danger of becoming stalkers, grabbing any piece of attention we can," he said. "Don't pursue it directly. Let's pursue laughter, beauty, ingenuity, authenticity, radical openness. If you do that, you'd be stunned at the volume of attention that will eventually flow your way." He added: "You have to pursue generosity, passion, wisdom, honor, an idea that is bigger than you, then love or happiness will whisper, 'I'm here.' Those of us who want to tap into the passion of the world's online communities need to adapt the same approach."